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Some key issues in sociological inquiry.docx

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David Young

Some key issues in sociological inquiry A. Attributes – characteristics of a person or thing  i.e female, student, intelligent, liberal B. variables – logical groupings of attributes  i.e male and female are attributes; but these together comprise gender  i.e upper, middle and lower class are attributes; social class is the variable  attributes are essentially the categories that make up a variable C. types of variables  (1) independent variables – it is the variable that is assumed to have an impact on another variable  ‘cause’  (2) dependent variable – it is the variable that is assumed to be influenced by another variable  ‘effect’  In any given sociological study we will have several independent variable but just one dependent variable – assessing different causes  (3) examples of the relationships between variables  i.e religiosity can be independent and dependent  study 1 – gender and education can be independent variable where religiosity is dependent  hypothesis: less education and women are more religious  study 2 – religiosity is independent and voting preference is dependent  religion with high conservative view with prefer conservative/right wing party D. types of explanation  (1) idiographic explanation – involved identifying all the factors behind a specific action or event  Pertains to concrete and specific  i.e a story may identify all the causes of a particular event (like WW1)  (2) nomothetic explanation – pertains to abstract and general  Involves identifying the main factors behind a general action or event  i.e socio might indentify main causes of prejudice  3-4 explanatory variables E. Criteria for causality in nomothetic explanation  Previous example: education background are independent variables that influence prejudice (dependent variable)  There are criteria for a causal relationship  (1) correlation between two variables – empirical/observable relationship  i.e we find a correlation between the amount of tv viewed and school grades  empirical relationship: tv high = grades low  (2) time order – in the rela between the two variables, cause must proceed the effect in time  i.e the low school grades could be causing the high tv time  changes the independent and dependent variables  this is why it is hard to distinguish between the dependent and independent variable  (3) nonspuriousness – rela between the two variables must not be spurious (false)  i.e third variable – if level of stress is high, grades will be low and tv will be high F. types of research  (1) quantitative research – numerical representation and manipulation of observation with the purpose of describing and explaining the phenomenon  The findings are expressed through statistical relationships  In order to express them, they use tables and graphs  (2) qualitative research – non numerical examination and interpretation of observation
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